Understanding what’s driving our customers to change, to address a new opportunity, to solve a problem is critical to our success as sales people. We need to understand what’s driving their need to buy.

However, too often, when I ask sales people about the need to buy, they describe it in terms of their products or solution category:

“They need to buy HR Software”

“They need to buy servers”

“They need to buy IT Development services”

“They need to buy our semiconductors”

“They need a CRM system”

“They need to buy…….”

We can never describe our customer’s needs to buy in terms of a solution or product category. They need to buy is driven by a business problem or opportunity they are trying to address.

The need to buy might be

“We are unable to provide reporting on our legal compliance on hiring. We need to better track this, otherwise we might be found in non compliance and face fines of hundreds of thousands…..”

“We’ve noticed higher failure rates with electronic components in this product. It has an enormous impact on customer satisfaction and repeat buying. If we don’t fix it, we will have repair/replace costs of $X, and potential lost revenue of $Y….”

“We are falling way behind our commitment to provide new IT systems to our end users. This is preventing them from being able to to that—which has an impact of $Z.”

Our customers never have a need to buy our products/product category. They have a need to address a business opportunity, solve a problem, some sort of other change. Our products and services help them achieve our goal.

Unfortunately, we lose sight of this–we are driven by what we sell and how we are measured. So we define the customer need to buy in terms that are meaningful to us–that focus on our goals. And this is where the dis-connect occurs. What the customer is trying to achieve and what we are trying to achieve is different.

Ironically, the only way we achieve our goals is through helping the customer achieve their goals.

Secondarily, we need to describe and help the customer describe their need to buy in business terms–and these are almost always related to revenue, profitability, growth, improvements in share, improvements in customer satisfaction/retention. They are specific and measurable. They help both the customer and us establish a target, a timeframe, and a means of determining whether they (with our help) have achieved that goal.

Through the buying process, this need to buy, with specific goals/impacts provide the stimulus and focus to move forward in their project and their buying process.

Do you and your customers agree on the need to buy for every opportunity you are pursuing?